Monday, February 27, 2012

Upholder of Bengali cuisine passes away -- II

Last week, I wrote a brief tribute to Chef Udit Sarkhel, who departed early in February. The news had come as a shock to me because I was expecting to hear from him and looking forward to seeing him. I have been unable to forget him. So I invite you to a longer and better-written tribute by another food writer, William Sitwell.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Upholder of Bengali cuisine passes away

This past Sunday started on a sad note for me. I learned from India's The Telegraph newspaper ("Lord of spices," in the "Eye on England" column) that Chef Udit Sarkhel, who had made it good in the United Kingdom as a doyen of Bengali cuisine, had bid his final goodbye. What made the news all the more saddening was that he was an acquaintance whom I revered, even though I had never met him. We had exchanged e-mail messages and talked on the phone only. Yet, I felt an affinity for him because he had shown empathy toward me when I was trying to get a memoir published. He had patiently read a chapter and said words of encouragement. More important, he had, like me, just returned to his roots in Kolkata from a faraway place of work, or, if you will, a self-imposed exile.

In fact, both returned to Kolkata about the same time -- late January or early February. Just before that, I had received a LinkedIn invitation from him and, after accepting it, written to him an e-mail expressing my delight at his return and looking forward to a long-awaited meeting. I was beginning to lose patience when I hadn't heard from him. I was wondering whether he would reply. Little did I know then that I was waiting to hear from someone who had ceased to exist.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Returning home

I am back! I am back in Calcutta -- or Kolkata, if you will -- and to the blog. It has been dormant for months, and I have no excuse, except commitment to job and family, especially my 6-year-old daughter.

I hope you understand and I hope you will continue to post your invaluable and inspiring comments. Thou be my muse!

If writing be the food of life, play on. For I love to eat -- and write about food. Even the sight of food -- raw or cooked -- fills me with delight. This morning I walked the same farmers' market in my neighborhood as I did 5 years ago and savored the lovely sight of winter vegetables. Plump, round "desi" tomatoes, stalk attached, first said hello to me. I paused and took them in. I saw the bright orange carrots, which only winter can provide. Next, I bent to touch and buy small, shiny, green limes.

How happy I am to return to the city and this vegetable market. Linger, dear winter, for I am hungry for more.